The Prince George Cougars liked what they saw in defenceman Hudson Thornton enough to pick him high in the 2018 WHL bantam draft and Thornton lived up to the hype with what he showed the Cougars in their training camp that summer.
It took the Cougars more than two years but on Friday they finally convinced 17-year-old Thornton to sign a WHL standard player agreement.
“Hudson is a highly touted player in his age group, and he has the capability to be an impact player for us,” said Mark Lamb, the Cougars’ general manager and head coach. “We’re thrilled that he has committed to our program and that his family trust the developmental path we are providing him and young players in our organization.”
The Cougars picked Thornton in the second round, 33rd overall in 2018.
Gifted as a puck carrier and solid as a defender, Thornton returned from the Cougars’ camp to the Rink Academy in his Winnipeg hometown for the 2018-19 season. He could have returned to the Cats full-time the following season but chose to go the NCAA college route, playing in the BCHL for the Chilliwack Chiefs.
In his 16-year-old season, Thornton committed to a scholarship at the University of Minnesota-Duluth in September 2019 and went on put up decent numbers in junior A with the Chiefs, collecting six goals and 11 assists for 17 points in 54 games on the blueline. He also played seven playoff games for the Chiefs and drew one assist.
He had three assists in seven preseason games with Chilliwack. With the BCHL regular season still on hold due to the pandemic, the five-foot-11, 175-pound Thornton went to the United States Hockey League and played 23 games this season for the Fargo Force, recording two goals and two assists.